Two months before he walked out of his trailer in Moncton, N.B. — a rifle in one hand, another slung over his shoulder, and the sleeves of his green camouflage jacket rolled up to the elbows—Justin Bourque updated his Facebook page. “Ask yourself, would you fight for the future of your children or grandchildren, or your family and friends sons and daughters?” he wrote April 7. “The answer is: no you’re too stupid to know what to fight for, cause we’re already losing the silent war you don’t wanna believe is happening.”
By then, the 24-year-old’s Facebook account was dripping with cop-hating, liberal-bashing, pro-gun propaganda. Bourque’s profile picture, snapped over the winter, shows him standing among dozens of spent shell casings in a snowy forest, gripping a black rifle and wearing what appears to be same green army coat he wore on Wednesday evening, when he allegedly executed three New Brunswick RCMP officers.
“in today’s society anger and aggression are not allowed,” he wrote on Feb. 27, two days after uploading that profile pic. “what other basic instincts and emotions are they gonna take next[?]”
People, of course, are infinitely more complex than their Facebook pages, and the full, twisted story of Justin Bourque—who he was, who he is, and why he seemingly snapped—certainly goes far deeper than a collection of anti-establishment Internet rants. But, in hindsight, all the alarm bells were blaring, waiting to be heard. “if we are born poor, we die poor,” he wrote in one posting. “we live under their reign, under crownless kings. Unless the people take notice, fight, and destroy the 1% the battle for the futur [sic] is lost, because the new age of the tyrants is already upon us.”
Bourque said the “U.S. army improvised munitions handbook should be a New York Times bestseller!” He obsessed over a potential Russian invasion, mocking “the youth in Canada” who naively believe “everyone loves us, and we’re special, and that the world is in a new era of peace and understanding.” He uploaded ads and cartoons lambasting gun-control advocates. “Free men do not ask permission to bear arms,” one said.
“So you’re okay with the government having the weaponry to annihilate all life on earth,” read another, “but you’re upset I have a rifle that holds 30 rounds?”
On March 26, a Wednesday, Bourque posted a photo of a police officer eating a doughnut. “Obey the state, it’s the law,” the caption read. “Using the phrase ‘it’s the law’ to validate government is a fallacy. As if a codex of pompous and incomprehensible legalese magically validates coercion, theft, intimidation and violence.”
On June 4, Bourque’s account was especially active—and prescient. He uploaded an image of officers in riot gear, lamenting the “international militarisation” of police. He shared a joke from comedian Dave Chappelle: “You ever notice a cop will pull you over for a light out, but if your car is broke down they drive right past you?” And in his final post as a free man, Bourque typed the lyrics from Megadeth’s heavy metal song Hook in Mouth. (Matthew de Grood, the 21-year-old University of Calgary student who allegedly stabbed five people at an April house party, also posted Megadeth lyrics to his Facebook page just hours before the rampage.)
“You say you’ve got the answers, well who asked you anyway?
Ever think maybe it was meant to be this way?
Don’t try to fool us, we know the worst is yet to come.
I believe my kingdom will come.”
Later that evening, local police received numerous 911 calls about an armed man, dressed like Rambo, wandering neighbourhood streets in Moncton’s north end. By sundown, three Mounties were dead—Const. Fabrice Gevaudan, Const. Douglas Larche and Const. David Ross—and a massive manhunt was on.
Conflicting details about the fugitive slowly trickled out: one of numerous children (four, five or seven, depending on the report) home-schooled by Roman Catholic parents. A talented guitar player who dreamed of starting a band. A hilarious impressionist. A former Wal-Mart employee who, according to one colleague, “always said he wanted to go out with a bang and bring people with him.” Mike Campbell, who grew up in Bourque’s neighbourhood, told reporters he last saw his old friend a few weeks ago. They drank whisky in Campbell’s garage. “I told him: ‘Get hold of me later.’ And he was like: ‘I don’t know . . . You take care, Mike. You have a good life.’ ”
According to some reports, Bourque’s personality took a disturbing turn within the last six months, after he moved out of his parents’ house and into a trailer park. He started experimenting with hard drugs, one friend said and, in February he deleted his old Facebook account and opened the page that is now as infamous as he is. On the day of the murders, Bourque’s page boasted barely 40 “friends.”
“F–k he lost it,” wrote one of those friends, after Bourque’s photo hit the news Wednesday night.
“U were a friend man,” wrote another. “give up it’s horrible what u did give up.”
Trever Finck, another colleague who worked with Bourque at Wal-Mart, asked people not to “demonize” his friend. “Don’t create him into an icon,” he wrote. “Don’t allow the media to run their imaginations with him. If you talk to the media, be honest about him. It’s an honest feeling to want to elevate him above us or distance him to make us feel as though he’s inhuman, that we couldn’t succumb to similar violence. Fact is, every person has the capacity to commit violence on this scale.”
When Bourque was finally apprehended early Friday morning, he was unarmed. A woman who witnessed the midnight takedown heard the alleged killer utter two words: “I’m done.”